This is a little story. Sadly, it’s an American story. It’s one of those little stories which inspires big nods. Nods of recognition because we’ve seen it before. Nods because we’re a little tired of the story. Me too.
Here’s the upshot: The Gainesville Sun is reporting that Beta Upsilon Chi, an all-male Christian fraternity with branches all across the country, has been trying unsuccessfully to gain recognition on campus since May.
Here’s the laughable and sad events: Upon applying, the applicants were told by the school that a fraternity or a sorority can’t discriminate based on religion so they should instead apply to be a “student organization.”
Fine, the young men say. So they apply but are told they can’t be approved because student organization’s can’t discriminate based on gender. Fraternities and sororities can but not student organizations. So they’re told they’d be better off applying as a fraternity.
You already knew the story, didn’t you? After you read the first line you just knew the rest. Stories like these have been going on for the past decade too often. But with increasing frequency the Christians involved aren’t just shrugging their shoulders and going away. They fought back. With lawyers. That’s how we fight nowadays.
The lawyers in this case point out that the school’s argument wears a little thin when confronted with reality. Organizations at UF like the “Progressive Black Men” and the “Women’s Chorale” are clearly exclusionary, say the lawyers. But the school is arguing that anyone can join those groups. They just haven’t yet.
That’s the kind of icky lawyer talk that makes people picture fat men with drinks and cigars laughing at the silly Christians. UF’s lawyers insist there’s no “need for litigation” here and that the fraternity/student organization/non-entity is jumping the gun. The sad thing is that this is a public university and millions of taxpayer dollars will probably go towards those fat lawyers and their drinks and cigars.
Here’s a thought that keeps occurring to me. We have this invented separation of Church and State. Let’s not even argue that right now. The problem, it seems to me, is that the state keeps getting bigger and bigger leaving little room for the church. We have public schools so we have no prayer in schools. We have public policy so elected officials can’t admit that their religion informs their decisions resulting in slogans like “keep your Rosaries off my ovaries.” Public funding of science which can’t be immoral because science can’t be immoral leading to embryonic stem cell research and cloning.
I read something the other day that stuck with me and I didn’t know why. The Sri Lankan government offered financial support to rebuild Catholic churches that were destroyed by the December 2004 tsunami. Christians constitute 6.2% of the Sri Lankan population, the majority of which is Buddhist.
I thought it was a touching and nice story but I didn’t know why it stuck with me. Now I do. This story couldn’t happen in America. Not anymore. And that’s just a little heartbreaking. That’s just not an American story anymore.